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A first look at the 2012 Savannah Film Festival

Tickets are on sale now for the 2012 Savannah Film Festival, celebrating its 15th anniversary as a world-class red carpet event Oct. 27-Nov. 3.

As always, the SCAD-sponsored festival features an impressive array of independent films looking for festival kudos before they're shopped to distributors, first-run major movies (and we're talking first - we'll get to see them before much of the rest of the world), lectures, panels and workshops for the cinematically-inclined (that's where the SCAD connection is key) and appearances by celebrities.

They come to Savannah to talk up whatever project they've got to sell, to relive past movie glories, to answer questions from the audience, and to receive awards from SCAD and the increasingly-prestigious festival itself.

(They probably come to Savannah for the food, too, truth be told.)

This year's gang o'stars includes James Gandolfini, the former Tony Soprano, who's coming with Violet & Daisy, the Geoffrey Fletcher-directed drama in which he co-stars; Matt Dillon, who's getting a prize (and will attend a screening of his 2002 feature City of Ghosts); and Diane Lane, who'll be festival-honored and screen the whimsical 1979 film A Little Romance, in which she made her big-screen debut at age 13.

Director Fletcher, who wrote the screenplay for Precious (and won an Academy Award for it) is a 2012 honoree, as is actress Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone; Mission Impossible III). Model-turned filmmaker Christy Turlington-Burns will bring her documentary No Woman, No Cry.

Actors Gabourey Sidibe, Norman Reedus and Miles Teller are also scheduled to attend.

Adam Shankman, director of Rock of Ages and Hairspray, as well as a longtime judge on TV's So You Think You Can Dance, will be honored. Shankman also produced the filmed-on-Tybee Miley Cyrus vehicle The Last Song.

At press time, the exact schedule of events was still being finalized (as much as such things can be finalized - this is Hollywood, after all). Here are a few of the set-in-stone highlights:

Flight, a drama from Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis, starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle;

Quartet, Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, with Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins as retired opera singers;

On the Road, Walter Salles' adaptation of the classic Jack Kerouac beat novel;

The Sapphires, a 1960s girl-group drama from Australian director Wayne Blair;

David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, which recently won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival;

Rise of the Guardian, directed by Peter Ramsey, screened in 3-D (a first for the Savannah Film Festival, which has partnered with RealD Inc., a leading global licensor of 3-D technologies).

Ticket packages come in various packages (prices, dates, screenings et cetera). You can see it all, and purchase tickets and festival passes, at